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Fruits of the Earth

Fruits of the Earth

by Frederick Grove

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When, in the summer of 1900, Abe Spalding arrived in the village of
Morley, in the municipality of Somerville, Manitoba, he had been
travelling in the caboose of a freight train containing a car with
four horses and sundry implements and household goods which
belonged to him. He came from the old Spalding homestead in Brant
County, Ontario.

He had visited the open prairie a year before and, after careful
investigation, filed a claim on the south-west quarter of section
five in the township beginning four miles north of Morley. He had
had good and valid reasons for choosing that particular location.
The neighbourhood as such he had fixed on because his twin sister
Mary, who a few years ago had married a doctor by name of Vanbruik,
and who up to 1897 had lived in the county seat, was at present,
for somewhat obscure reasons, domiciled in this very village of
Morley, where her husband, having sold his practice, was conducting
the business of a general merchant. The particular quarter section
on which Abe Spalding had filed seemed, to the casual observer, to
offer no advantage over any other that was available; but he had
found that, while the water which covered the district in the
spring of the year stood for months on other parts, this quarter,
and the whole section to which it belonged, as well as the sections
north and south of it, dried several weeks in advance of the rest
of the prairie. Further, he had been informed that the province
was on the point of drawing two gigantic ditches through the
district, one of them being surveyed to pass exactly along the
south line of section five. These ditches were not primarily
designed to drain a seemingly irreclaimable swamp, but rather to
relieve an older settlement farther west, around the town of
Torquay; but, while they were not meant to drain the land which he
had chosen, he had shrewdly seen that they could not help improving
matters. With his mind's eye he looked upon the district from a
point in time twenty years later; and he seemed to see a prosperous
settlement there. The soil was excellent, and there was no
fundamental farming problem except that of drainage. Lastly, he
was not the first settler to make the venture; the two quarters
composing the north half of the section had been taken up a decade
ago. The men who owned them, it was true, had not been able to
make a success; they had left after having wasted their substance
and energy; but not before they had received their patents, which
they held on the chance that the land might in time become worth a
few dollars per acre. A third settler, a bachelor by name of Hall,
was actually in residence on the quarter adjoining Abe's claim to
the west.

Abe came from a small Ontario farm of eighty acres, half of which,
on account of rock and sharp declivities in its formation, could
not be tilled. He was possessed by "land hunger"; and he dreamt of
a time when he would buy up the abandoned farms from which all
buildings had been removed; and, who knows, perhaps even the
quarter where Hall was squatting in his sod-hut. In his boldest
moments he saw himself prosperous on so great a holding and even
reaching out north; for the section there adjoining was No. 8,
held, as part of the purchase price paid by the Dominion for the
rights of sovereignty in the west, by that ancient institution, the
Hudson's Bay Company. In any other place, where his land would
have been surrounded by crown land, any one might have limited
Abe's expansion by settling next to him; for no settler could
acquire more than a hundred and sixty acres by "homesteading."
Here, all things going well, Abe might hope one day to possess two
square miles; for the Hudson's Bay Company held its lands only in
order to sell them. Abe was a man of economic vision.

As the lumbering freight train banged and clattered to a stop near
the little station, in what was euphemistically called "the yard"--
distinguished by nothing but a spur of the track running past a
loading platform to the three grain elevators along its southern
edge--Abe alighted from the caboose and stood for a moment
irresolutely by its side. The conductor had told him that the car
containing his chattels was going to be shunted to the loading
platform, where it would be ready in an hour or so. Abe was not
anxious to go to his sister's house; but his impulsive and
impatient temperament made him desirous, above all, to get over
that interval of waiting without being too conscious of his wasting

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Product Details

BN ID: 2940013745032
Publisher: WDS Publishing
Publication date: 01/13/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 288 KB

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